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More tax legislation on the way

The trinidad Guardian / It’s “Fatca Round Two.”

Government is seeking Opposition and Independent senators’ support for tax information exchange legislation – similar to the controversial Fatca legislation – concerning the Global Forum (GF) of 141 countries.

“The Global Forum matter is Fatca on steroids,” Al-Rawi told reporters at his Government Campus office yesterday.

“That’s because the Global Forum issue covers 141 other countries and Fatca only involved the United States,” he added.

The Forum has cited T&T as the only country out of its 142 member entity which has not enacted laws for tax information exchange with its other – mainly European- member states.

He said if the legislation – which requires three-fifth majority votes for passage – isn’t obtained, T&T could suffer sanctions similar to those in the Fatca issue.

This includes severing of banking relationships and withholding taxes.

“I hope it’ll be treated in a better way than the Opposition did with Fatca as it poses risks,” Al-Rawi added.

Al-Rawi spoke after local bankers expressed concern about T&T’s status concerning the GF issue.

He said the past PP administration placed Government in the predicament.

“They knew of the issue since 2010, the GF also warned them of T&T’s commitment and in 2014, PP Finance Minister Larry Howai orally assured GF members that T&T would have things in place by September 2017.”

He said Government, working on the issue at “breakneck speed” has requested and received deferral for implementation of its GF obligations to September 2018.

Al-Rawi said Government put the Opposition on notice during the Fatca debate that the GF issue was ahead.

The necessary legislation is expected to be brought to Parliament soon.

He added the situation has been expedited with T&T’s agreement to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance on Tax Matters committing T&T to fighting international offshore tax avoidance.

The proposed legislation for Parliament will amend the Income Tax Act prohibiting the Board of Inland Revenue – on receipt of information under a declared agreement – from sharing the

information with certain agencies for non-tax purposes.

Further legislation for Double Taxation Agreements – addressing T&T’s seventeen Double Taxation treaties and allowing for exchange of information – will also be presented.

Government projects enacting the legislation in early 2018, bringing T&T into technical compliance in deficient areas identified by the GF.

However Al-Rawi admitted rapport with the Opposition has been “hot and cold.” “So we’ll go to Parliament,” he said, adding Government was open to Joint Select Committee scrutiny.

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